MAJESTIC – 01
The titan arose. It shook off an era's worth of sand and stone and rock and various umbrage, heedless of the mountains crumbling around it, and stood. The sun beat down upon its chrome hull, but the tarnished metal had endured things far worse than insignificant heat. The titan arose, and remained still, as sensors began to process information at a terrifying speed. One blue, glowing eye looked out on the dusty horizon, and at the same time, the titan's scanners pinged back their results. Nothing was alive in the great red wasteland that surrounded it.
A deep, grinding sound rolled out from deep inside the titan's chest, a sonorous echo of sadness an eon old. The titan had seen oceans fade away into nothing, had seen the core of a world wither away and die. It had watched civilizations drag themselves out of the primordial mud and build for themselves shining cities and achieve great things, and it had watched those same civilizations collapse and disappear without a trace. The titan was old, as old as Father Time himself, and it had crossed the boundless ocean of stars countless times, in attempts to escape the cycle of life and death. But always he was pulled back here.
Earth. The Motherland.
The last battle with the others had left him crippled. Too long had he fought alone, without rest, without ally until they had overcome him. The lesser automations had brought him to systems failure within the space of an hour. The thought shamed the titan. The thought and the stark desolation that surrounded him. The automations had destroyed humanity in its absence, and the titan had failed.
The titan began to walk. The titan walked, hoping, if one such as it could hope, that something would be found amidst the desert. Old maps were still present in his archives, and the titan pulled them to the front of its processors now. And the titan walked.
Red desert waste soon gave way to rubble and rock. The American Ocean was just bleached white ground now, specked with the occasional ship and supercarrier. He remembered when that vast expanse of sea glittered and sighed with the pull of the tides.The Russian Coalition was frightening, the finest pinnacle of human architecture ripped apart like a castle of cards. The titan walked past the skeletons of skyscrapers like a child amongst the trees, a stark reminder of what greatness Man had achieved once, and the depths to which the titan had let them fall. It was not self-pity, it was a robot and thus incapable of such. It was more of an immense sense of utter failure.
The days passed and passed, meaning very little to the titan, and in what remained of Asia, the titan made a discovery. He found cockroaches, mutated and grotesquely blown to hideous proportions, running rampant throughout the carcass of civilization. They scattered beneath him, and they hissed and bared their fangs as they went, more predator than pest now. The creatures had been unique from the very beginning, engineered from survival, and the titan observed that the insects were engaged in cannibalism. Piles of torn cockroach remains littered the streets here and there, which further confirmed what he had gathered so far. If the cockroaches were being forced to consume each other, what more hope was there for a human? And thus, the titan forsook all promise and ambition and resolved to wipe out the automations and then self-destruct. There was no more purpose left for it.
Night fell for the hundredth time since it had awoken. Ordinarily, this would have been of no significance to the great behemoth, but the further the titan walked into Asia, the lower his power cells went, dropping to alarming levels once he made in to the Indian City-Section. Instantly, the titan stopped in its tracks and began a self-diagnostic and repair. A malfunction, the titan concluded. There was nothing for it but to wait for the problem to pass. So the titan remained still in the ruins of the megacity of Asia, surrounded by rot and decay. Old and tired, it turned off all its functions and watched the night sky.
"Look at it. It's enormous."
"Jesus Christ, kid, back the hell off. It's going to blow the living shit out of you like all the others, you idiot!"
The first voice was a wondrous whisper, the second a scared hiss. Powerful sensors picked both up just the same, rousing the titan from its proverbial slumber. Rolling waves of mechanical astonishment rolled over it, half its mind wondering just how did these two humans survive the End of The World, the other half just taking in the sight of them. The boy was at the feet of the titan, running callused hands over the ruined, pockmarked shell of the giant, while the old man hung back, looking around furtively and carrying a large projectile based weapon, long obsolete.
"It's not like the others. It's not." Amazement tinged his words, as the boy turned back to look at his companion. "It's different."
The titan chose this inopportune moment to reveal its awareness. Giant cogs ground into life, steam hissed and hydraulic pumps began to draw, and the giant turned to look at the humans, creating a tremendous racket as it did so. Both stood stock still for a moment, then the older man began to scream and run, diving for cover behind a huge pile of debris. The titan realized the folly of its actions; fear was often the first human reaction when confronted with the unknown or the shocking. Yet no one seemed to have told the child that he was supposed to run. He took a step forward, brash and bold. Cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted. "Hey! Can you hear me?"
"Get down get down get down," screamed the older man, but both the boy and titan were ignoring him now. The titan had once been able to speak, but shrapnel and plasma fire had longer decimated its vocal cords. Instead, he emitted a long, rumbling groan, peering down upon the teenager clad in dusty rags.
"Okay." The boy nodded, breathless. "I think- I think I get it. You can't speak. Are you going to kill us?"
The titan shook his head, agonizingly slowly. Not an easy feat for a creature made out of bolts and screws and plate and sheet metal. It produced a horrible grinding sound, but the message was carried. The boy nodded again, a grin creasing his face for a moment and half-turned to shout in the general direction of his older friend.
"He's not going to kill us!"
For a moment, there was only the sound of the wind whistling through the fragments of Asia. Then, the old man peeked out from behind a ruined hovercar, the barrel of his gun coming before him. "They're going to be coming for us, kid. We have to go, now."
The titan creaked, looking at the old man with a single, glowing blue eye. Then, a giant hand came down, a rough segmented thing of steel and taut cables, pausing just a foot off the ground. And the boy, being a boy, full with the courage of his youth, stepped forward. The old man wasn't about to leave his charge behind, so he emerged from cover, swearing all the way, and hesistantly clambered onto the titan's hand. Somewhat pleased, the titan straightened itself.
The others exploded out of the debris, scrambling over jagged kolsteel, keening in that sibilant howl of theirs. Plasma lashed over the titan's hull, warning systems screaming inside it. They were all over him now, black metal tearing and slamming on his shell. The titan said nothing, closing his hand around the humans, even as they screamed and shouted, only adding to the chaos. A second barrage of fire knocked him backwards, coming from a pair of the automations standing near his left.
The titan raised his other hand.
A great thunder cracked across the sky, and the cannon spat flame. Across the small clearing, great holes opened in the smaller robots and they fell to the ground, twitching. The titan rumbled with anger, and a furious cacophony of small arms fire rose into the air as his defenses came alive, spattering the creatures with rounds. One by one, they fell from his body, to be crushed underfoot. A shrill alarm rang through his processors as the automations cracked a hole in his thigh section. Reaching for them, the titan reduced them to dust between his fingers.
The rest was a blur, something that he did not care for. This was the world now, full of hunters and single-minded war machines, turning on their makers now that there were no more enemies to fight. Blood and oil and sparking metal amidst the graveyard of a civilization. When it was done, the titan stood alone, the smoking carcasses of mangled robots littering the clearing. The titan opened his hand – yes, his hand, he remembered now what he had chosen to forget – and the humans looked out, amazed at the destruction of the beasts that had hunted them for so long.
The titan looked back at them. The sun was rising across the horizon.